Elephant Makes a Stool—First Known Aha Moment for Species

Eureka! Burst of insight may redefine elephant intelligence.
An Asian elephant uses a cube to reach fruit at a Washington, D.C., zoo.

In an apparent flash of insight, a young Asian elephant in a zoo turned a plastic cube into a stool—and a tool—a new study says.

That eureka moment is the first evidence that pachyderms can run problem-solving scenarios in their heads, then mentally map out an effective solution, and finally, put the plan into action, researchers say.

Video: Kandula the Elephant's Aha Moment

Correction to video title: Action shown is not first instance of Kandula exhibiting this behavior.

Adobe Flash Player This video requires the latest version of Flash Player. Click here to download. During the study seven-year-old Kandula was eager to reach a cluster of fruit attached to a branch that was suspended from a wire, just out of reach. After some apparent thought, the young male rolled a large plastic cube under the branch and stepped up to snatch the treat with his trunk—a feat he repeated several times over multiple days with the cube and with a tractor tire.